Brooklyn Boro

The Great Egg Cream Sip Off

August 13, 2021 William A. Gralnick
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So, to continue. I shared with you dear readers, the history and sumptuousness of the renowned drink called the Egg Cream. It is possibly the only drink that does not contain its headline ingredients. Not only doesn’t it have them, but it is also generally agreed by aficionados that it can’t or shouldn’t or whatever by those who make such decisions. I don’t think there is an Academy of Egg Creams like there is for the French language, but Brooklyn isn’t much for academic decisions about such things. The palate decides.

There is however, one controversy that remains about one ingredient that isn’t a must but must be part of 95% of egg creams that are stirred up at the counter. That ingredient is chocolate. And that is what we shall explore. Just as the dodgers had their fanatical fans. Whether the team was good, bad or indifferent, the love was there. And so, it is with Fox’s U-bet Chocolate syrup, a Brooklyn product dating back to the 19th century. By the way, Fox also touts its strawberry syrup and coffee syrup for egg creams. I gotta say “nah!” to those. Chocolate is the way to go.

But is Fox’s the way to go? Clearly I am not a scientist, nor do I work for a consumer advocate organization. I have a curious mind and I love chocolate; I’ve met people who don’t, but I think they are defective in some way. I went online asking the greats in the cybersphere what are the best chocolate syrups? I won’t list the top 10; I will say that Fox’s isn’t in the top five. It must be in any Egg Cream sip-off. Because I have limited counter space I chose three. The number one syrup is Ghirardelli’s. Haven’t chowed down on their stuff in San Francisco, I can attest to the fact it is scrumptious. They call their chocolate syrup chocolate sauce. (You’ll have to ask them why.) I don’t have a refined enough pallet to rank it. I also chose the name that is world-wide synonymous with chocolate—Hershey’s. And, of course, Fox’s U-bet Chocolate syrup.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Here’s how I did it. There are comfort foods and comfort possessions. Some years ago, I bought online the “official” egg cream making glass from Junior’s Deli which proved to be successful as a Brooklyn deli where you have to stay in Brooklyn. It has lines that tell you what goes in first (the chocolate), and next (the milk) and where to stop pouring it. Then comes the seltzer to the top. You need a long-handled spoon for stirring. The stirring produces that wonderful chocolate ladened foam that even smells like chocolate no less has a chocolaty taste to it. I then took two glasses of the same size. I put one on each side of the Junior’s glass. By filling the Fox’s glass with water, I made sure each held the same amount.

Into each I poured the ingredients—chocolate and milk for which I used real, whole stuff that comes from a cow not the burgeoning market of products called milk none of which have been near a cow. I did that because in the hey-day of the egg cream, those products were around and therefore couldn’t have been used in making an egg cream. Then came the piece de resistance, the seltzer. I used seltzer not club soda. No potassium carbonate or sulfate in my egg creams. However, in a salute to the truth, I did not use seltzer from a green seltzer bottle. There are two reasons for that. The first is I don’t know today where one gets such a one. The second is I was at a meeting with someone in a deli that had these power-packed bottles on each table. He tipped his glass, squeezed the handle, and watched stunned as the seltzer shot down the side of the glass, hit its bottom, came back up the top side of the glass and arced across the restaurant soaking people’s tables, and tables away on the other side of the restaurant. Scientists often have wives; they also have laboratories. I have a wife and no laboratory. I wasn’t about to have to face my wife having doused the kitchen walls with chocolate infused seltzer.

Back to the counter. I poured the seltzer into the first glass and stirred like a madman until I had that only on top of an egg cream foam I was looking for. Then I tasted it. I made one and sipped; likewise for the others. That way each taste was from an equally fresh egg cream. To drink an egg cream requires sticking your nose into the foam (never sweeping it off like used to be done to beers served up in bars. In short order, one’s lips find the rim of the glass and contact with nirvana occurs.

First I’ll give you the winner and the blow by blow of the decision-making process. (I wonder if I’ll get a cooking show out of this…) 

And the winner is…


The secret seems to be in the syrup, or sauce as Ghirardelli calls it. Theirs is so thick it is hard to get out of the squeeze bottle. There is also an, to me, indefinable taste to Ghirardelli that makes it memorable in the mouth.

Fox’s Syrup has been made in Brooklyn since 1900, invented by a bit of a gambler and roustabout. Not as thick as Ghirardelli it does have a distinctive taste, but not distinctive enough nor thick enough.

Hershey’s definitely has the name and an amusement park. It is sort of the Disneyland of Chocolate. It has almost as many varieties as Disney has parks. Compared to the others it is thinner and just doesn’t cut the mustard, or milk, as well. Not to say it’s bad, after all it is Hershey’s.

And so, with a deliciously messy counter, which I thought about licking clean instead of attacking with Bounty, I’ve added multiple calories to my day but had a ball doing it.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the articles. Having been brought up as a daughter of a dad who was a partner in a Beer and Soda store, and having worked there for more than 10 years, I had lots of egg creams among other interesting concoctions.

    I also had egg creams in luncheonettes! Some were candy stores that also served food. Some didnt sell much candy. There were 3 within 1 block of where I grew up.

    Selzer and the chargers needed for them were sold in Beer and Soda stores. Such stores were only available in NYS. Liquor stores sold … liquor and if you wanted a beer and soda prior to the 80’s or maybe early 90’s, you had to go to such as store, not a supermarket.

    There are, in Brooklyn a few Beer and Soda stores left. That’s where you’d go for the green seltzer bottle and the charge to make it work 🙂

    I agree with your assessment of G’s chocolate. But there is nothing like Ubet in an egg cream. Or without milk as a Chocolate Soda.